A rough depiction of Iron Age Maiden Castle Coffee Mug
A rough depiction of Iron Age Maiden Castle Coffee Mug
by cooldudeproducts
 

Maiden Castle Hillfort

Aerial photograph of Maiden Castle, 1935

Maiden Castle in Dorset is pretty much the jewel in the crown of hillforts. The site has appeared in record books, as the largest hillfort, and even castle in Britain, though the definition of that title is a little in dispute.

What is certain, is that the size of the site, and height of the hill it sits upon, have caused it's designers to create a beautifully complex design, of many ramparts and massive entrances and gateways, that conspire to make this the grandest, and the poster guy or gal, of hillforts. 

So anyhow, I have been to Maiden Castle and a fine site to behold it is too. When you park up at the car park right by it, it does not seem like much, just a blob of a flat mound, but once you get up into the wide ancient manmade paths, and see the  deep ditches, and very high ramparts, it is easy to conjure up a magnificent site in your imagination. The wide entrances, and the flat top of this large landform indicate why it is the best candidate to be classed as a oppida, in Britain. On top of that, like most hillforts, the view is pretty good as well from the top. 

I or we, did take some pics of the site but have lost them, so I have what I can find elsewhere. So I have turned a public domain picture of Maiden Castle, into one which I have turned into a imagining of the fort, which you can only use with my permission. Anyway, it is a much photographed site, and just like it's almost twin like site on a much smaller scale, Old Oswestry, the most indicative pics are from above anyway. 

So here are some facts on the site. 

The site covers 19 hectares in terms of that interior, which is a statistic often related in articles for this site. Confusingly many other forts get their size given in terms of interior and ramparts, which can make them seem larger. Though I have seen a figure of 50 hectares for the whole area of Maiden Castle. Which seems fair as the ramparts do cover a wide area. It is the size of these ramparts that make it likely the largest multi ringed well populated comparatively undamaged hillfort in Britain. Though I think I shall go with the statistic mentioned by Jacquetta Hawkes and Christopher Hawkes in their 1943 book, Prehistoric Britain, that mentions the fort at it's peak reached almost 100 acres, so I will say that means 40 hectares.

Yes there are some sites of 1 ring, with little evidence of population, Bindon Hill, and Mull of Galloway Enclosure, that seem larger than Maiden Castle, but this site Maiden Castle seems to be in the top few of the list of the largest classically defined hillforts in the British Isles. See my fun facts page for my thinking on the size of the largest hillforts. Oldbury Camp in Kent is a competitor, and Borrough Hill Hillfort in Leicestershire, both hitting about 50 hectares, in some calculations. Though Borrough Hill has just a single ditch and rampart, while Oldbury Camp, though has a claim to being multi ringed, has much of it's sides with just line of the ring, though it is a impressive site. Then there is also the former Iron Age mining site, and enclosure, on Llanymynech hill in Montgomeryshire / Powys spanning over the border into Shropshire. It is regarded as a hillfort that reaches 57 hectares. but with it quite largely impacted by more mining, quarrying and later developments upon it, this means it is not that recognisably a hillfort today. While though Ham Hill Hillfort also known as Hamden Hill Hillfort, in Somerset hits 82 hectares, it is another case of a site damaged by quarrying. I can also tell you that Ireland, does have the Brusseltown Ring, which is 32 hectares, and has 2 sites larger than Maiden Castle. They are Tinoran which was badly damaged by forestry, it hits 5 rings, but none are truly continual, and there is also enclosing Brusseltown Ring, the Spinans Hill - Brusseltown Ring complex, which hits 131 hectares but it is more a single ring, enclosing 2 major hillforts. 

So anyway, back to Maiden Castle, well it overlooks a mile or two away over the Dorset plain, it's successor settlement, the county town of Dorchester (Just as this site was a major centre of the county sized tribe, the Durotriges. A site which at first got the semi-Roman semi-Celtic name, Durnovaria. that later mutated into the Anglo-Saxon Dornwaraceaster, and overtime the term we have now. This actually where it's people were moved to as a Romanising settlement quickly after their conquest of the area in around 43 AD.

The figure from a birds eye view on maps, extends in an irregular oval shape, curving inwards slightly at the centre. It’s most extreme furthest away points, of the most exterior ramparts, reach to about a km lengthways, with it being between a third and a half of that measurement on this oval’s widths. Though the number of ramparts on the slopes, can enclose something like 75 metres to over 125 metres as a ring around the site, making that stat so big. So to the question, how long is Maiden Castle, my answer is about 1km, or 1000 metres, though, look at a diagram to confirm my estimate. 

The ramparts get to 20 feet or six metres high in some cases, not far short of that just about everywhere, with the ditches helping this enormous scale. 

Intriguingly the eastern entrance had 2 gaps for gate houses just beside each other, and thus  a double entrance. So why would there be 2 separated gateways, beside each other?  Some wonder about what the differentiation was for. Could it have been just different for entrance and exit, class variation, or some clean and unclean route, depending on what you had with you, I mean who knows. While the western entrance is a just as confusingly arising 200 metres long corridor.

Continued below.my 2 Maiden Castle Canaleto's. . ............................

One of it as it's peak, the other under attack by Romans. (If that happened or not). I have a elephant in that example. 

Maiden Castle peak.jpg
Maiden Castle Roman attack.jpg

One respected  estimate claims 1500 people could have lived at this site, a stat that is sometimes used for other hillforts, which is unlikely as many of those were much smaller. This was certainly the most populous hillfort in Pre-Roman Britain and Ireland. Which indeed would make it a de facto city in Iron Age terms, a very populous site, a metropolis indeed, of singular gravitas for the people of the time. 

It sits on a hill 40 metres above the plain, and had a history as a smaller site, but started growing as time went on, to become the likely key site for the area. The site sits 13 metres above sea level.

Famously 40,000 sling stones, have been found at the site, for the local armoury, from nearby Chesil Beach. 

I like the idea, that this site was called Maiden Castle, as it meant Great Dun, or fort, as that is pretty true. 

I also have a fine list of other forts with the name Maiden Castle below at the very lower part of this page. There are a quite big number of them. 

More key to this particular fort by the way, Maiden Castle quite uniquely for a fort has had a symphonic rhapsody devoted to it, by major composer of the time John Ireland in 1921. I did put a link to it on my links page, but to hear it you type in Mai Dun and the composer's name, not Maiden Castle, as that is the work's name. I rated it quite nice. 

Plus a major author of the 1930s John Cowper Powys wrote a novel entitled with its name Maiden Castle. A blurb for it on one website says something like this. This Hardy style novel of 1937 is number four of a series. The Dorchester earthwork bastion of the Celtic past, pushes a unusual but strong effect over the happenings and loves of a man called Dud No-man & a young lady Wizzie Ravelton. So that covers a very general description, I have to admit I have never read it myself, I may some time, if I get the chance. 

 

Also Thomas Hardy, one of Britain's leading 19th Century novelists lauded the fort aplenty. Indeed as I say in my "fun" facts page, the site features in the 1967 movie adaption of his 1874 novel, Far from the Madding Crowd, Plus it also features in his 1875 short story a "A tryst at an ancient earthwork". I have heard it, and it is kind of a ode to the structure. The story is also called  “Ancient Earthworks and What Two Enthusiastic Scientists Found Therein”, and "Ancient Earthworks at Casterbridge" Casterbridge being the town in his novel's fictional county of Wessex, a county mostly based on Dorset. 

Maiden Castle or Mai Dun features again when one of the characters runs over the site, in his 1886 work, The Mayor of Castlebridge. So surely this site is among the embodiments of what is termed in Dorset, "Hardy Country". 

So now a short piece in between the rest of this article on this great hillfort. So here is my review of the movie from 1967 Far from the Madding Crowd,  a piece written by me about this film n June 2021. I was looking to see it, then realised, I would never be lucky enough to be watching TV exactly when it was on, so I would just buy a cheap copy on ebay or Amazon. I found one, and it was a good movie. Yes it lasts 2 and a half hours or so, but it had great actors, great actresses, brilliant camera work, and displayed a fine story of this 1860s time story. Great characters, great writer, both Hardy and the screenwriter and director and such. Maiden Castle was only in it for a minute or two, after a about a hour, but still a fine scene. I love the way they portrayed modernising 19th Century life in the countryside.  Which surely had similarities to modern very rural places, and more so including rural Dorset in the 1960s and 1860s and I hazard to guess, even ancient Iron Age Dorsetshire. It is a moral tale, about Bathsheba Everdeen, and 3 suitors, who really like her it seems. All sorts of goings on, manoeuvrings, and courtships on the rich tapestry of farm, market town and country life in those times. And yes, her surname does seem to be the inspiration for Katniss Everdeen, in Hunger Games, who was portrayed in the said 2010s movies .by Jennifer Lawrence. I could not have watched this movie in my teens without being a little scarred for a day or few, by one of the saddest scenes, but now I am older, I can cope, still a very sad scene, so prepare yourself if you watch it. I did find the movie fulfilling. It stars Julie Christie, Terrance Stamp, Peter Finch, and very importantly Alan Bates, among many other fine actors actresses, and plenty of sheep and sheepdogs. 

Anyway, back to the fort itself readers. 

So Maiden Castle certainly traded to or had commerce with the local area, and as well, ports like Poole, Hengistbury Head, and the Isle of Portland. Indeed whether one of those particular coastal sites was this site's major flow towards the continent is a good question. 

The site reached it's peak in the late Iron Age, along with many other of the larger hillfort sites in southern England, and seems to have possibly been not expanding by the year 100BC. 

It certainly was the site of a Roman temple, in the Roman Empire. Which added to the Maiden Castle history. Indeed elements of that can be identified today in the 2020s. 

Anyhow, there are much better pages and sources than mine on Maiden Castle in Dorset, but my site does dig up a few little facts on it, like it's length, and my site is more about other great hillfort sites and tying the subject together.

The 19th Century and early 20th Century were the biggest time for archaeological interest in hillforts, concentrating on the ramparts apparently. With the insides dug at greater ratios at later dates, by less militarily influenced antiquarians.

If the theory is correct, that Maiden, means Mai Dun, or great fortification, then the term Maiden Castle is photo semantic as it is rooted in a Celtic term, but the Saxon then English term for that sounds like it, as in Mai Dun, but the English word Maiden does not have the same meaning. If the speculation for it's origin of it's name is correct. 

The site was known as Mayden Castell, as early as 1607, and surely earlier, and some wonder if it was the city of Dunium mentioned in Ptolemy, though that is just a theory. 

Famously the great archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler in his early 20th Century excavations found some great facts about the fort. Though he also controversially claimed there was evidence of a battle here between the Romans and the Natives, but later experts claim his evidence from skeletal remains may be from battles elsewhere, as there is not a huge amount of finds indicating such a event. Whether such a battle occurred is debatable, but what is beyond doubt is that this was a major city for the time, of hundreds of roundhouses, of smoke rising out of them, of chariots and people. Whether their people served in armies in cases, that fought battles is also beyond question, it must have been so, but whether they ever occurred at this site, at it's peak, both Pre and actual Roman, is a bigger question. So that is what happened at Maiden Castle for this Maiden Castle facts page. . 

Miss Spellings associated to Maiden Castle, It could be miss spelt as Maiden's Castle, rather than Maiden Castle. John Cooper Powys, could be a miss spelling of John Cowper Powys as could John Cowper Powis, Maidencastle and Maideun Castle of Maiden Castle plus Maiden Castle could be miss spelt  Mayden Castle, and Maiden-Castle, or even  Maidon Castle, Also Chesill beach, Also Mortimor Wheler, and Morimer Wheller, and Mortimer Wheller, could be miss spellings of the archaeologist. Plus Doorchester, and Dorechester, of the nearby town, plus Tomos Hardy, and Thomas Hardie, of the author, and Thomoshardie. Plus John Kenyan of the poet. To be honest even Maiden Cstle Hill fort, never mind Maiden's Castle Hill Fort, would be regarded as unusual as of the words hill fort instead of hillfort. Even Maiden Castles Hillfort, would be quite wrong, and though the term Maiden Castle hillforts could be at times OK, if talking about the many hillforts named Maiden Castle in one sentence. The Maiden Castles could also be used in that case. Mostly though Maiden Castle is the only normal usable term. A Scottish artist has a painting in the National Gallery, of Scotland John Francis Campbell, a lovely work of there around the entrance of Maiden Camp, in Dorset, from 1848. Perhaps this was one of the names they used then, I would assume it is of Maiden Castle. So that is all I have to say in terms of facts on Maiden Castle Hillfort (Other than that interesting list below. That is the Maiden Castle, Maiden Castle Hillforts.co.uk page on the subject. So that is that on Maiden Castle.  

I should also add there are also these other Maiden Castles

Here I have a list of over 2 dozen sites, in the form of a glossary  many of which are in Britain, I start with the longest article / paragraph, on the only other "Maiden Castle" I have been to, but then the rest are much shorter mentions on examples of the many other Maiden Castles.

I did write this list, in 2020-2022, but in February 2022 saw a website, that had a much better list even than mine, http://www.snsbi.org.uk/Nomina_articles/Nomina_29_Coates1.pdf  So I have added to my list it via that. I should add I already had most of these sites on my list before seeing the Coates paper, and also there are a few on my list that are not on it, some a bit off subject, and some like at Uley Bury that are  truly relevant to hillforts. But that Coates list is more well researched than mine, with so much learning the fellow like many others has a right to have proper original theories as he does, while I have not researched in depthly, so much so in mine I have to parrot various other's remarks in the main, which is OK. I mean I do have some original thoughts here, and I can make some judgements, but only some. The writer of that Coates paper was more in depth than me, and knows more about this Maiden Castle name than me, but I still like the Hardy idea of  Mai Dun, being the origin for the name Maiden Castle better, as of the ancientness, and some broad links to history associated to the theory.  

So here goes my list, which I  have mostly found by my research. 

  • Maiden Castle, Cheshire. Another one I have been to. I travelled via my sat nav, to western Cheshire, and saw the general landscape, it was a area of trees, and fields, cows, villages, roads footpaths and such, plus the odd dog and walker. I reached Bickerton where it is, and Pool Lane where I parked. Then from here I walked to the top of Bickerton Hill, which from where you see a nice view of the hills of North Wales, and it's plains, and plains of Cheshire. The area is sandstone, as could well be seen from the sandy paths up there. It took barely a few minutes from the car park, and what I saw was a semi circle of a fort, that used a cliff, like Dun Aengus in Ireland does across what is now for it seascape, to look across the still as it was then landscape of the Cheshire plains. It is a example of a number of such fortified sites on the sandstone ridge that holds most of the county's hillforts. It sits on a hill 214 metres above "sea level", The area is covered in heath, and in fact I saw cows there, and ate some lovely blackberries in the fort, first time I have eaten nature's bounty there from a hillfort. Iron Age pottery has been found there. As a extra little fact I found, apparently it used to even be called Maiden Tower in 1710, I got that from  http://www.snsbi.org.uk/Nomina_articles/Nomina_29_Coates1.pdf .  This is the only  Maiden Castle other  than Edinburgh Castle, I have been in. So Maiden Castle, Cheshire, is an Iron Age hill fort. It is among the most significant in fame,  maybe not so size, at 0.7 hectares I believe, of the other Maiden Castle sites in Britain. Other than the key one, that is Dorset's great hill. There is a local myth that the site was used by women of the area., when Welsh raiders, arrived, when the men were away. I mean it is close to the Welsh border, and there were in those days raids and invasions against each other, unlike our beautiful peaceful times of today. Though that does sound, with men as well, what many claim hillforts were partly for in the Iron Age. 

  • Verterae, also known as Maiden Castle, Cumbria, a Roman fortlet in East Cumbria, near Brough, and Stainmore. Some wonder if it is referenced in the 13th Century as a similar named site. 

  • There is another Maiden Castle a Iron Age farmstead, near Penrith and Bennethead, about 65 metres in diameter, not a hillfort, on Ullswater Way. it's also in Cumbria. I think it is the one on the Richard Coates article listed as near Watermillock, which is near Penrith in a sense.  It is also called Caer Thannock, a British origin name. 

  • There is another site it seems called Maiden Castle, again in Cumbria. It is near Kirkby Thore, where there is a Roman Fort of Bravonicum, and the MC name is for a area at Low Abbey by this area. There are a number of sites labelled castles round here, which some give as the reason why this township area's fields or something got the name. These including the Maborough Castle, which is labelled a "entrenchment", and just a field, I have never been there and dont know what that is, but some see the term Maborough as similar to Maiden Castle as in Mab and burgh. I believe they are saying it is not a actual Norman castle, and more something lesser. It seems quite related to Whelp Castle, a site to the west, which when it apparently existed was a ruins, whose remains were used to build other buildings, in modern periods, like Kirkby Thore Hall, so very little remained even in the 18th Century,  and Whelp Castle itself was made from Roman stone in the 12th century -13th Century according to legend.  

  • Plus a Roman Road called Maiden Way, linking from the Roman fort in Cumbria of the Maiden Castle name. It is also called Maidenway and even archaically Mayden way.  Though some call this not so archaic. It seems most feel the name stems from the last of the fact its links to the Stainmore Maiden Castle, though it also passes Kirkby Thore. There are speculations with some estimates that the road or route used to continue  to near modern Tebay in Cumbria, which is on the motorway north and south, and possibly even to Roman sites at York. (There is also another Cumbrian Maiden Castle below). 

  • Maiden Castle, Durham, an Iron Age promontory fort. Research indicates it was Iron Age. With across the river, a Maiden Castle motte, very largely denuded, in Old Durham. The hillfort itself has a few things named after it in the area, and the motte surely from the Medieval era, is surely named after it, you would guess, though my research has not checked if it is that way around. 

  • Maiden Castle, North Yorkshire, an Iron Age settlement, near Grinton. I believe it is in the region of where Swaldedale is. 

  • Maiden Castle, on Dunniface Hill, also known as Kennoway Motte, it is a Medieval motte in Fife. I read in a book on Google's archive of books, a mid 19th Century one about Fife, "Handy Book of the Fife Coast", that it was once called the Mai-Dun.  There was even a tale it was Kennoway Castle, and a tale that it was associated to MacDuff who featured in MacBeth, It is even called the Castle of Kennoway and in the 16th Century Maydyn Castle. Some apparently have like for many sites associated legends of maidens to it, which many experts see as lovely miss interpretations of the name, even if many of those legends are quite old by now. It is also in the parish of Markinch / Dalginch. 

  • Maiden Castle, Bracks, in the Lomond Hills, simply classified as prehistoric, also in Fife. The Lomond Hills, not to be confused with Loch Lomond which sits about 70 miles or so to the west, on the west side of Scotland. So these Lomond Hills, sit on the west of the county, what some for some reason call the Kingdom of Fife, which of course is on the east side of Scotland, and they are the highest points of Fife. Indeed West Lomond, the highest of it's hills, is about a couple or a few km to the west of the hillfort. With the village of Falkland that distance again to the east of this fort. Bracks seems to be a place a name for a general rural area, that is listed as close to Falkland, Which itself has just over a thousand one hundred people in 2021. The hills have 2 summits, and this fort is on neither, just on a lower grassy knoll in between these 2 main summits. So the fort itself is not the highest point of these hills or Fife, but it is rare fort for Scotland, where that it is one that sits somewhere on a distinct localised geographic feature that is the highest in it's county.   As a other extra little fact apparently it used to be called or it was referred to as Madincastle in 1662, I  saw that fact on http://www.snsbi.org.uk/Nomina_articles/Nomina_29_Coates1.pdf 

  • Just like Cumbria, Fife has lots of Maiden Castle sites. Maiden Castle at Collessie, in Fife is another site, but most say this area was not given the name till the 19th Century and it was likely a more recent stock enclosure, not a hillfort. It also had a nearby twin of a site called Agabatha. 

  • There is also a Maiden Castle, in Northumberland, known as the Ketties, Greenside Camp, and Cauterdale. Likely Pre-Roman. There is some thinking that it is also a fort talked of in Northumberland called Maiden Camp, or even the Maiden Camp of Wallis. It sits in the Cheviots. If the latter name is true, it may also be the reason a well nearby may also be called the Maiden well. But that may be a spurious guess. 

  • There is also a Maiden Castle, in Swansea's area, known also as Oxwich Point, A kind of fort again there. 

  • Also in South Wales, there is Maiden Castle, in Treffgarne, Pembrokeshire, the name of some rocks, above a fort, certainly the name does not refer to a fort. 

  • There is also a Maiden Castle in Aberdeenshire, near Pittodrie Home Farm  Some dating has put some walls at 410 AD to 640 so a Pictish fort, or even Pictish Camp. It seems it has a Maiden's Causeway that leads from the fort area to Bennachie and Mither Tap. It seems this trackway may be ancient indeed, not just medieval, but likely older. There is a myth about a maiden to do with this, and some typically tragic tale that you get in old local myths, but could it just be the Brythonic route name of these Maiden's castles, turned into a legend that explained the name. Then again some may imagine it is a name added by later antiquries or such. The 9th Century  10 foot high maiden stone also sits not many miles from this location as well, in Gairoch, a carved Pictish stone. Though the causeway may be named after the stone, actually as the stone is as strongly associated to the legend, also known as Drumdurno stone. I have not researched well enough to know if the Causeway, stone, or fort were called it first I am sure many have, 
    I think some call it Oyne Maiden Castle Fort, as Oyne is it's parish, and a place called Gairoch is nearby as well. The nearest larger town is Inverurie, a few miles to the east. It had ramparts and radiocarbon dates from the Picts of the 6th Century, in those ramparts. Some have found a quarry there, from those times or later, and some even wondered if it was just a quarry, but others see a fortification site here, and excavators have proven it.  It sits on the North East of Bennachie, a major formation in Aberdeenshire, which also has Mither Tap as a summit on it, and plenty of legends more associated to it. Well back to the Maiden Castle,  Archaeologists found a 1000 year old glass bead here is excavations, and a cobbled roadway.  
    There is yet another identifier which is the location of Insch, some call it it with that name after as well, for this Pictish fort.  All these different identifying names for the fort made me think it was 2 different forts being referred to, its only when I checked I discovered it was the same fort. 

  • Plus a Maiden Castle kind of hillfort in Angus, north east of Arbroath, at East Seaton, also called a promontory fort. It was called Maiden Castle as early as 1899. 

  • There is also a Maiden Castle kind of earthwork in Midlothian so not far from Edinburgh. This site is at Lasswade, not far from Roslin, some wonder if it was a motte and bailey rather than a earlier hillfort. The Coates article refers to this being it's name since at least 1845. It is on the atlas of hillforts, unlike most motte and baileys, because later quarrying and such have deformed it so it is uncertain if it may be of any date, like older even than the Normans, but it is hard to decide. It uses a meander in Midlothian's Esk. 

  • In North Yorkshire into West Yorkshire not far from Leeds, there are also the Aberford Dykes, and they include a fortifications called Becca Banks or the Ridge that ran for 3 miles. Some wonder if it was built to protect off Roman or Dark Ages attacks. The site near Saxton, Becca Banks, is among those that some experts claim is what was previously in the 12th Century recorded as being labelled as Maidencastell. The Aberford dykes are regarded as 3 dykes, Becca Banks/ The Ridge, The South Dyke and Woodhouse Moor Rein. The main one, Becca Banks runs 3 miles, on the north of the Cock Beck Valley. 
    Radiocarbon date points to some being from possibly the Roman era, or just before, though some wonder if it was a post Roman British link of fortifications against the Anglo-Saxons. Whatever the case, it was within the area of Elmet when it was one of the later "British" kingdoms in the Saxon takings of Northern England. Today some of it still parts of parish boundaries. A 1175 or 1186 source states, latus cujusdam montis qui vocatur Maidanecastell. 

  • There is also a hillfort called Uley Bury in the Cotswolds, in Gloucestershire,  in fact, it is a Iron Age fort, that was supposedly never conquered, according local myths. It actually used to be called Maiden Hill. It has 2 lines of ramparts, Some say it was thus called as of never being conquered or rather taken, so you know like I mean, a maiden would not be a name you give for a married woman, that kind of thing, as in untaken. So all sorts of legends can develop around the name maiden.  

  • There is also a Maiden Castle in in Glendevon, Perthshire.  Also known as Maiden's Castle. Unlike the locations above, there is actually no sign of a hillfort or castle here. Some wonder if it comes from a miss transliteration from Gaelic. Though there were folktales aplenty about this hill, and in one folktale a castle appears on this hill. 

  • Also near Falkirk, formerly Stirlingshire,  by a area in the old Antonine Wall, there was a area known as Maiden Castle. It was supposedly about a motte, that is of a undefined age according to Coates. Apparently it was destroyed in the 1890s.

  • Also in East Dunbartonshire, there is a motte, known as as Maiden Castle, near Campsie, it is probably 12th or 13th century AD. 

  • There is also Maiden Castle Cairn not a fort, a likely Neolithic or Bronze Age one, in Cumbria's Eskdale. 

  • Apparently there is also a uncertain feature near Penrith called Maiden Castle according to Coates. 

  • Plus Maiden Castle, the big one in Dorset has a number of Bronze Age barrows and such nearby. Including the longest known barrow of the time in Britain. Namely Maiden Castle Bank Barrow, which at 546 metres long goes over Maiden Castle, and is barely visible today. It is labelled as Neolithic and Bronze Age. There is also Maiden Castle Long Barrow, with it 27 by 9 metres in size and half a metre tall according to 1980 estimates which was less than 1955 estimates very close to the fort. Then there is the  Maiden Castle Bronze Age Barrow cemetery which includes a 55 metres diameter 3 point 5 metres high barrow, and some smaller ones, which are it seems grouped round a now flat Neolithic barrow. Plus there is a  Maiden Castle linear earthwork, which tries to avoid certain barrows, and has been flattened in many parts by ploughing, so now is best seen by aerial archaeology, and most guesses say it is likely Bronze or Iron Age. It seems to have included a ditch and bank with the marks stretching as much as 540 yards long. 20th century investigators saw it as being measured, at 18 feet wide, and 1 and a half feet high, with a ditch 6 metres wide, and 0.2 metres deep. Whether it was a dyke a geographical marker or whatever, I am just guessing there. Ploughing had been affecting the site overtime.  

  • Maiden Castle Causewayed Enclosure is a Neolithic site that sits under Maiden Castle, Wessex, the Dorset one, the Iron Age site, and is among the largest in Britain. It reached 8 hectares. It is likely from 3500 BC roughly. 

  • There is also a Maiden Castle in Iran, also known as Ghal'eh Dokhtar

  • Also, Kızkalesi Castle, in Turkey, off Mersin Province, on a islet, is known as Maiden's Castle, also known as Deniz kalesi. 

  • There is also a Maiden's Castle a ruin in the ancient and abandoned city of Merv in Central Asia. Turkmenistan in fact. It is 8th or 9th Century and is also known as Great Kyz Kala, and looks amazing. 

  • Edinburgh Castle used to be known as Maiden's Castle, or rather Mayden Castle, this was the spelling in in the 16th Century, Indeed sources claim it had this name for centuries afore then. A source called Maiden Castle in Dorset, that Mayden spelling in the 1600s. Amazingly the reasoning of why the capital of Scotland's castle has that older name rarely mentions it's Dorset sister, but maybe there is a good reason for that, I don't know the language situation, was the Celtic of Edinburgh different to the Celtic of Dorset? Anyway, thats a possibility of the Edinburgh name. I say, but it is better to listen to the even more learned experts on that I say. There is some scholarly debate about what proof there is that the Maiden Castle name was used for this site earlier than the 12th Century, but I feel that is something I can only parrot experts on. I prefer the idea it stems from  a Celtic name, Mai Dun, than that the term was a 12th Century Medieval fellow's  invention, but that is highly debatable. Of course the legend even of a long time ago, about why it had the name Maiden, in this case was to do with a bevvy of maidens living there long before, and also variously nuns. Even in this sense, you could maybe call it the 3rd Maiden Castle I have been to. 

  • There is also a 549 metre hill called Devin, in the south east of the Czech Republic, in the Pavlov hills of Moravia (The Czech Republic consists of Bohemia, Moravia, and the Czech bit of Silesia). This is not the same as the hill of the same name between Austria and Slovakia on the Danube. So this Czech hill, was referred to as Mayden's Berg, in German. It interestingly has a large Iron Age hillfort atop it. The term is very close to Maiden Castle in German, I mean the term then may have a similar history or root meaning then. Now a part that may be very uninteresting to some people, but I found it uncanny. So I write as much of my own stuff as possible, but so I do not fake it I am saying what I said on wikipedia, for this little bit here. I read on Wikipedia that the word Devin has this explanation. The name for the great Slovak castle, is maybe derived from an ancient Indo-European/Proto-Slavic stem *deiv- with apophony *doiv- related to light & also visual perception. Devín, Divín, Devinka, Divino, Dzivín, plus similar Slavic terms can be sometimes be interpreted as watchtowers or observation points. That same same root related to vision can be found also in the word div (evil spirit) thus meaning "the place of evil spirits". Though and this is what I at hillforts.co.uk find most interestingly about what was said on wikipedia in 2021 (not sure how long that entry will last, but it was then, perhaps not always) , The Annales Fuldenses explained the name from the Slavic word deva—a girl ("Dowina, id est puella"). In this case, devin grad means "castle of the girl. Now that is fascinating, as a girl, and a maiden are terms that can be used at times, though not all times, interchangeably.  Now that finishes my bit of just overtly looking at what was said on wikipedia, now back to my own as original as I can be, writing.  I mean yes the term Maiden Castle likely came from a Celtic term, Mai Dun, and was misinterpreted, like happened for a lot of old British terms when the Saxons arrived, as Maiden Castle, but maybe the German term Maiden Berg also came from it, as there used to be Celts in this area, and perhaps the Slavs and Germans somehow, if it makes sense with the timeline maybe it does not brought their names from there. Though I don't know, at all really. I mean Maiden in German is Madchen, so I have no idea really. :Though it is also known as the Maidberg, and Divci hrady, hrady is castle berg is a mountain, so it is quite close in  a way to those terms, so maybe my thinking is right, or totally wrong. Also I see from looking up this a bit more, too much really, that Maiden was used with the term magd, in medieval German, so maybe my theory is correct after all. I came up with that theory before reading the Coates paper. Ok, one last footnote bit on there, the names Maidenberg, and Maydenberg are actually surnames used by a lot of    people in Europe and the USA. Plus there is a wine from the Czech Republic called Reisten Maidenburg Pinot Blanc, from the  Moravia region of course. 
    There is also a city in Germany called Magdeburg, so similar huh.
    As I say, back to my own as original as I can make it, or try to make it,  writing, as I try to make the case for as much as possible for this article, this page, and this whole website. Though maybe I should add, if Devin Castle on the Hungary, Slovakia, Austria border, which sits on the Danube, has a term that comes from Mai Dun, then it could be the 4th such Maiden Castle I have been to in a way.

  • Also, so, also plus a area called Maidencastle in Northampton exists, it must be a part of the town in Northamptonshire. 

  • There is also a Maiden Castle footbridge in 2021 anyway, over the River Tyne in County Durham. It was constructed in 1974.

  • Plus not coincidently in Durham, there is a Maiden Castle stadium, where Durham Women football team play, plus where Newcastle United used to train with for instance their 1990s greats. I can not see if Sunderland or Middlesbrough ever played there, Maybe their reserves did. 

  • Plus a Maiden Castle Wood, is nearby, in Durham, it must all be associated to that earlier mentioned Durham Maiden Castle Iron Age site.   

  • Plus Maydes Castle, in Aston-Sub-edge, Gloucestershire, it refers to cultivation terraces, another name is the Lynches.

  • There was even a horse that won a race meeting at Wolverhampton in the year 2020, by the name of Maiden Castle. This out of 13 riders at 12 to 1, but it had by no means won every race, indeed it was 13th out of 16th in one race at Sandown the same year. I just read that on the internet, and if you want to make sure of those stats I state there, do your own research to check if I am right. I am most definitely not a site that knows about horse racings finishes, so do not categorically state that, all I know is what I read on the web, I  also do not support betting though, and make sure to discourage myself from ever doing gambling, I do not recommend gambling. Though I do not want to be too Puritanical about it. Though I do feel horse races look beautiful as a concept I make sure I do not gamble. Interestingly it was a male horse. 

  • There is also a Maiden Castle hill in Antarctica, it hits 1796 metres high. Surely the highest of these Maiden Castles I know of.

  • Also, and skip this one if you are very young, if you like, there is a castle in Picardy, France, at Peronne, which was called, the "La Pueclle", and avert your eyes younger readers, for this word, that means "The Virgin". Which some definitions of the word maiden would have links with. But it was as the site was so impregnable. 

  • In London, there was a site called Maiden Hill, that was a circular mound, likely a barrow, on a hill, but it was levelled in the 19th to 20th Century.

  • There is a hill in West Lothian called Maiden Hill, all I read of it is that it is a hill. Plus such a site in South Lanarkshire. Again just a hill.

  • Plus a site near Newton Mearns, called Maidenhill. It's in East Renfrewshire. 

  • Plus there is a such not that I can see, fort stationed, so no fort, hill called Maiden's hill in Cumbria, near Wigton.

  • Plus a nine Maiden's hill in Aberdeenshire.

  • Plus lastly for these there is a Maiden Pap, a hill, in Caithness, which is almost a Marilyn. Apparently it can seen according to some from the Orkney Islands. 

  • Plus there were a number of places in Medieval England called Maidenburgh, Maidenbury and such as Coates says, a more Saxon version of Maiden Castle, such as a lost place in Cambridgeshire, though they do not really correlate as he says, to hillforts. (One was mentioned as a meeting point, for some event, long before 1066, in England). Some wonder if Melbourn Bury was the Mayd (en)  Bury, also in Cambridheshire, also mentioned in old texts.  You can skip the rest of this paragraph, if you want to see more Maiden Castles, or read it if you want to see my thinking on the Coates theory ( Which he sees as correlating to his interpretation of the reason for why the name proliferated, he says it is as of Geoffrey of Monmouth's writings in the Middle Ages, and people naming sits after their name for Edinburgh Castle and such. A highly reasoned and interesting theory. But I prefer the more common idea it stems from Celtic terms handed down from the Dark Ages as Hardy the writer states. Then again Caer Caradoc was a name certainly placed on sites at later dates, than the Roman era, so maybe some of the Maiden Castles were as well, but I say many, most or all, were from the Thomas Hardy supported theory of Mai Dun.  Whatever the case, and more so if it was a term of Celtic origin, maybe there are more sites that used to be called Mai Dun, that now are not, or even were named after other Maiden Castles, and lost that term to something else. Or perhaps some of these sites had other names like how Caer Caradoc used to be called Caer. I prefer the former theory. My defence of it, would be the existence of Cheshire's Maiden Tower, Maiden Hill at Uley Bury, the Czech one, and Maiden roads, the Way and the Causeway. I notice a lot of the Maiden Castle sites are in the areas where Brythonic languages may have survived to later in the period of Anglo Saxon England, and in cases the  Normans, or afterwards. Or where Cumbric may have survived quite nearby well past when the Normans were in Northern England, and their lineages were also in the Kingdom of Scotland, and it's complicated story, of Bythonic, to Gaelic to English in Central Scotland. . I mean even Dorset was only taken by the Anglo Saxons at the end of the 7th Century.  Then I would also say not the areas which stayed speaking Brythonic languages past 1500.  Kind of like a version of the Fosse Way divide, but with Dorset included in this case to the west.  And with a extra divide that being where the Celtic "fringe" lasted longest, with Goidelic Gaelic, and Brythonic Cornish, Manx,  and Welsh, west of there to the 18th Century and beyond, there are less Maiden Castles being there. As even look at the Maiden Castle in West Yorkshire, it is within Elmet's territory which was a later laster of Celtic kingdoms in North Eastern England, and Yorkshire, lasting to 627. I think there are hardly any Maiden Castles outside of this later Dark Ages  to early Norman times, in betweeny zone between English or Bythonic tongues. (at times in that period some of these areas had become more Anglified in language, while some took a long time to so)  Durham's Maiden Castle is in a area which was taken by Saxon kingdoms in the mid 6th Century, so quite early, but Durham's county has a Celtic derived name, unusual for Eastern English places as did early Saxon kingdoms there. Plus on a map of Britain, Durham is a little more Celtic in terms of dot maps of the origins of names for places than England's more southerly eastern seaboard counties. Then for the one in Aberdeenshire, I think it would have turned from Pictish to Gaelic speaking in this in betweeny time, with the area Scots English speaking at a later date, if that also had a impact on the name. I have no information to say how long it's name has been around,  I read the Maiden Stone, or Maiden Stane was noted as such from a old legend by a folklorist in 1885.               Also he really has a point with how the word castle is not a Saxon word that hillforts use, but is more used at later times, that to me just could be minor. I mean many English forts do not have "Burgh", after them, and some no burgh, but yes to castle, so maybe it is just the term Castle was added to these Mai Dun sites, as it was only just before the Normans, that it felt necessary to add the word castle, as before Mai Dun was even accepted by Saxons as a term for a fort. I also think the fact there are surnames that sound like Maidenbury may indicate there were place names aplenty of that names in the Saxon period, they were just replaced, it could be, I gander. Then again doing detective work on things so long ago is fraught with difficulties especially as I do not speak the ancient languages or have the desire to learn, so I will leave that to others. But it is a great theory of Coates, and I should not be too attached to either theory, so both may be right or wrong, or just one, or a little of both. So as I say I would prefer to believe the Hardy style theory is correct. Though then again as of my Scottish heritage, and Welsh heritage maybe it would be fun to think the Coates theory is more right. After all Geoffrey of Monmouth was Welsh, a Breton-Norman Welshman, so it would be fun to think a Welshman is the reason for all these Maiden Castles getting this name, maybe a bit petty but I can take that as a petty fellow/w. Then, the thinking that King David of Scotland, the titanic figure of Scottish state building of the 12th Century, who famously captured Northumberland, Westmorland and Cumberland in the 12th Century as of his position as King of Scots and Prince of Cumbria, and who had lands across England as a lord there, centred on Huntingdon, as of his and his English wife's connections to the English royal line, well yes he was a major figure of Britain, who some claimed had a title to the King of England as well (Though he did not), so maybe it makes sense his power spread such a name, on inspiration of Geoffrey of Monmouth giving Edinburgh Castle the name, and from there the name spreading. In fact he even had authority over St Davids in Wales, so a major figure. . Indeed look at Gloucestershire , it has those 2 seeming arrows in the heart of the Coates theory, the 2 Maiden sites there, but actually who was the guy in charge of Gloucester in the 12th Century. It was the powerful Earl of Gloucester a illegitimate son of the the king, and he was honoured by Geoffrey of Monmouth, so maybe the Maiden Castle name came from there, and could St Davids, also have had it's influences on Gloucestershire after all there were connections with this part of England, and Wales, them being so close. So maybe the Coates possibility has a chance, a effect of a powerful figure's political ways on Britain. Or it could just be the Hardy theory is right, I still plump for that as of that Czech hillfort, plus the Maiden Bower sites. 

  •  Plus there was a Paisley, built, HMS Maiden Castle that served in the Royal Navy during World War Two. So a floating Maiden Castle. It had the important task of supporting convoys from 1944. After the war, sadly the ship was sunk in 1947 while serving in the Levant, with the tragic loss of at least 65 lives, of whom many were Jewish refugees, during the  conflict situation in the Holy Land, vis a vis the Palestinians and their numerous organisations, and the organisations of the soon to be declared (1948) State of Israel.  Meanwhile, the ship itself was refloated, and later served as the Empire Lifeguard till 1955. Of course as of the convention that ships, be called "she", well this is a rare "Maiden" castle, it is legitimate to call a she. 

  • Plus lastly there is a Maiden Castle Road in Dorchester as you may expect, happily it leads from Dorchester to the fort itself. 

  • There is also a fort called the Doon of May, in Dumfries and Galloway, not even 0.1 hectares in size. 

  • Plus a hill fort,  Maids Moreton in Buckinghamshire, just 2.9 hectares. 

  • There is also a hillfort called Friar's nose, near Kilmade Burn, in East Lothian. 

  • There is even a 4.9 hectare Maiden Bower hillfort in Bedfordshire, near Dunstable. Not too far from the highest points in the county. Some call it a plateau fort. And many state, that the "Bower" could be a changed term from Bury, so a Castle. 

  • There is also a Maidenbower in Crawley, a neighbourhood.

  • There is also a chambered tomb called The Hoar Stone II also known as Maiden Bower, near Woodstock, which is near Steeple Barton, in Oxfordshire. Apparently in the mid 19th Century it was broken up by a farmer so now looks more like a cairn, a shame, as normally farmers are the best protectors for sites like this at times. Some sites refer to a ancient earthwork being nearby, but others indicate that the nearest hillfort is a few KM away. Though possibly the term earthwork was also used for tombs, it was also called Maiden Bowery, and was given romanticised reverence in 19th Century descriptions, as the site of a alleged ancient British altar. That must be it, earthwork is another term for many ancient sites, not just hillforts.  Apparently it was 8 foot high, and also labelled a cromlech, apparently hoar stone could mean hairstone or boundary marker and it is also labelled a cromlech. 

  • Also in the Parish of Randwick, near Stroud, Gloucestershire, there is a site called Maiden Hill. This is among my fave on this list here right now. Which had been called Mawden Hill, as early as 1603, and Maiden Hills, it is a site described as having a ancient earthwork atop. I looked in vain on Atlas of Hillforts, but noticed they meant a different meaning of earthwork. It turns out there is a immense tremendous long barrow atop it, Randwick Long Barrow, stated as "remaining" it is 55 metres in longness, half a metre high, and 4 wide. It sits amid a wood. Spooky thought to some, as some fear forests, but tantalising and esoteric to me. Apparently there are "several" tumuli around it, and if you see, yes there are plenty more barrows up here as well. Plus a 255 metres away a ridge dyke Randwick  Cross Dyke, 200 metres long up there, so all this together could be like a hillfort to someone. I mean to a person in the Dark Ages, maybe when it was unforested this could be regarded as similar to similar to the lumpiness and ridges and bumps atop a hill of a hillfort. I mean who could forgive someone for assuming it was a fort, and maybe it was a significant site that defended, and or a refuge to some extent to escape up to for people from raiders, or maybe not, maybe its not that shape. So along with Uley Bury, a second Gl site that indicates towards the Mai Dun Hardy definition I say, 2 Maiden Hills, with earthworks atop. 

  • Plus another Maiden Hill, in Gl, near Stonehouse,  another in Norfolk, another in Berkshire,

  • Plus another Maiden Hill in Gloucestershire actually a Maiden Hill Farm, near Longborough, which is quite near a long barrow on a hill, and has been known as that since 1275 and earlier. I am unsure if possibly these other Maiden Hills, maybe had Celtic earthworks, of tumuli, and such, but that is all cool. 

  • There is also a Maiden Hill field in Dorset, recorded 1837, just a couple of KM, from Weymouth, interestingly there is a hillfort, Chalbury Hillfort, barely a KM west of this field. It is all near Sutton Poyntz a area on the outskirts of the coastal resort of Weymouth. 

  • Plus at the top of the great hillfort in Lothian, Traprain Law, which used to be called Dunpelder, in the Middle Ages. Well currently there is a Maiden Stone, a natural rock formation, which has split, which has some legend associated to certain things, ideas about people passing through it for fertility or just good luck, in some legend way.    

  • Plus a wood  in Shropshire near Caer Caradoc, known as Maiden Hill Wood, since at least the 1840s. 

  • For that matter, Cornwall, has the Nine Maidens row. Which is a stone row, which has a legend associated to sisters being turned very sadly to stone, it is the name for this Neolithic or Bronze Age monument. The Cornish name also mentions nine women Naw-Voz. 

  • Additionally Cornwall also has the Merry Maidens, where 19 dancing maidens were punished apparently for this deed as of dancing on the Sabbath. It is another Neolithic monument, loads of stone rows and monuments have this kind of legend. This is actually a stone circle. 

  • With also in Cornwall, the nine maidens of Boskednan, which is a similar Neolithic  or Bronze Age stone circle.  

  • Across the county divide in Devon there are the 9 Maidens, in Dartmoor, a stone circle, it is Bronze Age.

  • Additionally there is a Down in Cornwall, named Nine Maidens Down, which is a hill, that had 2 early Bronze Age stone circles atop it. 

  • Plus there is a Maidenhead, a market town in Berkshire, that has also been a parliamentary constituency.

  • So a lot of places have the word Maiden in them there then, quite a fact that. 

  • In The Mull of Galloway at Kirkmaiden, South West Scotland. Their is a hillfort called Core Hill, but itself it the parish gets it's name from a Saint. Indeed actually the Mull of Galloway Enclosure, is within the parish as well. I mention it on another page, indeed the parish also has a broch and another fort, called Dunman Fort a Iron Age Hillfort. 

  • There also some islands with the name Maiden in, such as one off Oban, on the Western coast of the Scottish Highlands, which has those legends about maidens to do with it, like some such hillforts.

  • Plus a Maiden Island of Antigua and Barbuda.

  • Plus a islet off Newfoundland, part of the Greenspond community.

  • There are also the Maiden's off  country Antrim, in Northern Ireland. They being 2 islets and a small number of skerries.

  • There is also a village in Herefordshire called Maiden Bradley.

  • There was a castle in East Sussex, called Iden's Castle from the Middle Ages, and Middle Ages can be shortened to Ma, so Ma Iden Castle. It had links to someone who fought Jack Cade in 1450. 

  • Also there are some women with the surname Castle, so they could be called Maiden Castle, like the painter Florence Castle of the 20th Century, or the dancer Irene Castle. You could have someone with the name Mai Den Castle. I don't see anybody called Encastle as a surname on the internet but if there were a lady again could be a Maid Encastle. 

  • Also there is a word, encastle, a archaic term for incastle, which to incastle, or put a castle in a place. So if a young lady decides to put a castle somewhere, maybe a sand castle, or queen or princess on advise of her advisors, and self, then the debates going about the place may be,  Will the maid encastle ?

  • Just to show there are near similar spellings there is a Malden Island in Kiribati in the Pacific Ocean. 

  • Of course seeing it seems Maiden Castle was named after Mai Dun, not Maidens, perhaps it can also be compared to other forts with great in their name, in other languages. Such as the Gaer Fawr hillforts of Wales, and Caer Fawr.

  • I at Hillforts.co.uk do wonder, if Mai Dun, was a pan Celtic term, used across much of Europe. I wonder if this almost our closest thing to a phonographic recording or even astonishingly a Tv interview with a Celtic peasant or warrior, of the term Mai Dun, being a Celtic term, lasting that we say today to now. Just as they would have pointed to the great fort, or hill, known as Mai Dun, we also say that as well, but in a different understanding. Was it used from North East Scotland, to Dorset, to Bohemia, well so many forts do not have that name so its hard to tell, maybe not, but maybe. Or if we can interpret the word Mai Dun, or all etymology terms, as a even a hyper Basho-like super minimalist mini mini folk tale rendering of lost times and their phrases, a kind of micro poem. 

  • This page is about the Maiden Castle in Dorset though. So finally in terms of Maiden Castle, that is all the info on and about Maiden Castle.